The unconventional Mother’s Day advert: “Don’t Call Me Mother Today”

This Mother’s Day in China, Babycare and brand ambassador Zhang Yuqi launched the ‘Don’t Call Me Mother Today’ campaign, along with a short film on the same day, echoing the slogan “A good mother is a good mother even without a mother’s sense.” Following its release on 10 May, the hashtag #Zhang Yuqi: Don’t Call Me Mother Today# (张雨绮 今天别叫我妈妈) quickly gained traction on Weibo (China’s Twitter-equivalent), amassing 270 million views and sparking 64K discussions.

The short film portrays various motherhood scenarios to convey the messages: “There is no birth pain that a mother has to endure, but only the public’s mindset that has to be transformed”, “There is no baby that a mother should bring up, only a child that a family should raise,” and “There is no mother as she should be, only as she wants to become”. In the concluding subtitles, Babycare emphasises its “Painless Childbirth” public welfare project, now operational in 11 hospitals across 7 provinces, and highlights the rebranding of “mother and baby rooms” to “nursery rooms”, eliminating gendered labels in childcare facilities.

Unlike traditional Mother’s Day adverts, Babycare doesn’t applaud the role of motherhood, but rather reveals the dilemmas mothers face. In other Weibo posts released on the same day, Babycare put together a collection of questions collected from mothers into ‘99 moments when I didn’t want to be called mum’. After raising her children on her own following her divorce, and participating in reality shows, emotional variety shows and talk shows, Zhang Yuqi has become a benchmark for independent women. Her voice makes the film even more influential.

Supportive users praised the film, stating, “I admire Zhang Yuqi’s attitude as a mother; she embodies our ideal mother,” and “I want to see a real and well-rounded woman more than a great mother”. However, some users expressed doubts, questioning the appropriateness of the de-emphasised motherhood theme for a Mother’s Day campaign from a mother and baby brand.

In addition to Babycare, other brands are also taking unconventional approaches to Mother’s Day this year: skincare brand HBN released an original documentary titled ‘Becoming a Mother’ aimed at inspiring single mothers facing the challenges of parenthood alone. Jingrun Pearl gave mothers the exclusive title of ‘Jenbeng Mom’ (sounds like ‘well done, mom’) and initiated a trend of praising mothers by curating #JenbengMom’s Awesome Moments# on Xiaohongshu (RED). Meanwhile, children’s cold medicine brand Xiaokuaike presented a short film titled ‘Rumoured Superpowers’, dismantling the singular focus on mothers in parenting and advocating for a collective responsibility involving husbands, family members, and those who have supported mothers along the way.


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